Caught on the back foot after four Naxal attacks in three days in Chhattisgarh, the Union Home Ministry on Monday warned the state government of more such attacks. MHA sources said two successive alerts were issued in the last 24 hours regarding possible attacks that threaten revival of Naxal violence after a brief period of calm in the state.
The MHA decided to confer gallantry medals on the security personnel killed in the back-to-back attacks, officials said. “The Ministry has decided to honour the martyred policemen as part of the initiative to boost the morale of the forces which are engaged in the counter-naxal operations,” said a senior official, adding that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has spoken with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to take stock of the situation. These attacks have also have exposed chinks in the anti-Naxal armour put in place by the state government and the Centre and also highlighted the lack of coordination between the two, sources said on Monday. An official admitted that the attacks exposed lack of coordination between the forces on the ground between the Special Task Force, the state police and the Central Paramilitary Forces, namely the BSF and the CRPF.
Even as MHA officials said the attacks underlined “an increasing engagement by the State police with the Maoists”, the casualties on the ground showed lack of actionable intelligence about the impending attacks, a source said. In one of the attacks a BSF jawan was killed less than 500 metres from his camp in Kanker district while one perimeter security duty. “It is a positive indication that the State government is taking the lead in carrying out operations against the Naxals. Standard operating procedures on carrying out troop movement and counter-IED measures are already in place and they are being followed,” officials countered.
A comprehensive counter-naxal doctrine recently drafted by the MHA also envisages a lead role for State police forces in carrying out anti-naxal operations. The official said: “However, although precautions are taken to ensure that there are no casualties on our side, but is a war going on in the difficult terrains and occasionally, preparations prove to be inadequate. All the incidents are being analysed to ascertain how such attacks can be thwarted effectively.”
While the MHA has five extra companies of para-military forces to assist the State police in conducting anti-naxal operations, the state has been demanding 26 more battalions over and above the nearly 50 already posted there. Chhattisgarh is the only state where Naxal violence has been growing since 2012.
Security agencies suspect that the recent attacks by Naxals could be part of the outfits’ tactical counter offensive campaign launched around this time every year to re-group and gain ground.